Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Santa Baby: Please Bring Me Joy, Peace, Love, Sanity and Wine

There's a scene in the classic 1980's movie "Road House" where Patrick Swayze says.. "Be nice until it's time to not be nice."  This pretty much sums up where we are with our 3 year old, Benjamin right now.  I'm nice.  I'm the mommy and my role is to be nurturing and loving and make sure both my children grow up to be respectful of others, appreciative of what they have - most especially the non-material things - and of course in the meantime I have to discipline when necessary.  I admit, I'm a big softie when it comes to my children.  I of course say "no" when needed, but when it comes to "time outs" and taking away toys or privileges as a consequence - I often find myself feeling guilty and thinking "but they're just babies..."  It's tough when they're preschoolers...trying to make sure they understand the rules and what's acceptable and not, without being too soft or too tough on them. 

So I'm nice.  However, Benjamin has decided that he no longer wants to bathe, so it's time to not be nice.  I mean, there are just certain social norms that just aren't up for debate.  Bathing is one of them.  What it really comes down to is a battle of wills with him.  He's at this stage where he will challenge us on things for no apparent reason other than to see which of us will crack first.  So on Sunday morning when he refused to get in the bath, I issued an ultimatum - he would not be allowed to play any games on my iphone, or play games on the computer or Wii - until he took a bath.  I won, as I stuck with it all day and by Sunday night, he was in total media withdrawal and he finally gave in.

It occurred to me at one point how ironic and absurd it is that 3 year olds these days are so savvy with electronics and media.  I mean - Ben's punishment was no iPhone, Wii or computer.  He's 3.  What's next?   He'll be live Tweeting on New Years Eve in Times Square?  Developing websites on a consulting basis for a little extra side cash?  It also makes me wonder what people my age (29) were doing for fun back when we were 3?  After perusing some old pics of my childhood, I concluded that I was trying on my mother's Dr Scholl clogs and her 70's dresses with a sunhat, waiting for my big break as a movie star.  My "media"was listening to a narration of "Cry Baby Duck" on my portable little 45 record player.  I also had a mouse named "Missy Mouse" that I'd tote around the house.  I'd feed her and bathe her and wrap her up in a blanket to snuggle her.  Obviously this was before they realized that mice are actually carriers of many transmittable diseases and probably aren't best suited as the pet of choice for a 3 yr old.   But hey, it was the 70's - back when everyone was drinking Lowenbrau beer and actually encouraged to smoke cigarettes while pumping gas.  The good old days. 

Well that was a nice walk down memory lane, but back here in reality, Christmas is upon us.  I love Christmas, but I always find myself really torn.  I'm so frustrated by the sheer commercialism of it all, and each year vow not to get too crazy over the gift-giving aspect of it.  Of course it's nice to exchange small memento's of appreciation with friends and family.  And I'm very grateful for what I receive.  But everything always seems to get a little out of control, culminating in a Christmas Eve extravaganza where the kids tear open presents in the living room with reckless abandon, barely glancing at the gift before tossing it aside to open the next one. Don't get me wrong...it's wonderful and they SHOULD get to experience that and all the wonder and excitement of waiting for Santa to come and finding the presents they've been wanting all year wrapped up under the tree.  But I want them to understand how lucky and blessed we are and realize that as fun as gifts are, it's not what the Christmas season is about.  That giving and helping others all year and especially at Christmas time is just as important.  They are too young to understand this, but there are people right here in the city where we live that don't have a roof over their heads and warm clothes on their backs.  They don't have enough to eat, never mind gifts from Santa under the tree.  That just kills me.  Thank God for organizations like MACC Charities (Manchester Area Conference of Churches) for all they do.  Every little bit counts - monetary donations as well as non perishable food items, blankets, toiletries, etc.  We all have something to give this holiday season- no matter how big or small.  If each person reading this clicked on the link and donated just $5 - can you imagine what a difference that would make?  Or if we each committed to donating some non perishable items from our own cabinets, or an extra blanket?  Surely we all have something to give to our local food pantry or shelter. 

I wish you all a Merry Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and blessed New Year!  Thank you for reading my blog and allowing me to share with you all the craziness, fun, silliness, the ups & downs and adventures of parenting and just life in general :)  

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Socks Appeal

6 weeks ago we had a new gas dryer delivered.  We hooked it up to the existing gas line where the previous gas dryer was and made the silly mistake of thinking we were good to go ahead and start using it.  Au contraire, mon frere (literal translation: Hell no).  According to everyone else in the free world who's ever hooked up thier own gas dryer (my father) - it was a piece of cake and just about impossible to screw up. 

Heavy Machinery and highly flammable, combustible material - what could go wrong?  So we lit our cigarettes and got started.   Just kidding.  My father didn't seem to be amused, either when we texted him a picture of Brian kneeling down next to the gas pipeline with a wrench in one hand and a lit cigar hanging out of his mouth. The best part is that my dad takes everything very seriously, so no matter how outlandish the joke, he automatically gets wound up thinking he has to save me from myself.  Needless to say, I got a phone call with a lecture about the dangers of natural gas and the hazards of smoking.  I told my father not to worry, as we had cracked a window and only smoked filtered cigarettes, which are proven to be much safer than unfiltered.   

In any event, we got the dryer hooked up no problem.  It was the potent smell of gas after that was the issue.  Unsure of what had gone wrong, we immediately turned the gas line off, but of course we had to get to the root of the problem and figure out if and where the leak was.  So we decided it was worth paying someone - an actual professional - to come out and hook the dryer up properly.  Of course it was Saturday.  So I get online to research and it appeared that having our local gas company come out was our only option.  The good news was that they offered services 7 days per week, the bad news was that their weekend rates are as follows: 

$114.00 - Minimum for first quarter hour (15 minutes)
$42.00 - Each additional quarter hour

That's $114 more than we were looking to spend for for 15 minutes, but we were still smelling gas (even after we shut the line off), so we pretty much had no choice but to call them.  Here's the thing about the gas company.....when you call them and mention that you tried to hook up a gas appliance on your own and you believe you now have a gas leak, they take it pretty seriously.   Especially when they find out you're smoking.  They actually come out for free when there's a suspected gas leak involved to secure any immediate dangers.  Oh good!  They were quick,too.  Almost like they have a unit on hand just waiting for people like us to try and "do it oursleves" so they can dispatch the dummy-mobile to save us from ourselves.  As it turned out, we had a bad gas hose - so it wasn't actually our fault  They made sure the gas line was shut off, told us to get a new hose (or we could have them attach the hose for a mere $500) and then they'd come back to inspect it to make sure it was ok to turn the gas back on.  Ok - so the hose at Home Depot cost like $30 and it was simple to hook up.  That was the easy part.  Now we just had to call the gas company and schedule a time for them to pop by and turn the line back on.  

Here's the other thing about the gas company.  When you call the main number and press #1 for "I may have a gas leak and I'm not sure if I should put my cigarette out", someone answers immediately.  But when you press #2 for "I haven't paid my gas bill because I spent all my money on tobacco products and cheap floozies"  or #3 for "I need to have one of your field workers come to my house and inspect our stupid mistake"...they make you wait.  Estimated wait time was 21 minutes, and we waited on hold for 35.  When we finally got someone on the phone and explained what we needed, she put us on hold for another 20 minutes while she finished her lunch.  She gave us a date like 10 days out and that was that.  

Here's another thing about the gas company - they don't know how to use a calendar, so the nice gas man showed up at our house the next day - a Saturday - of Thanksgiving weekend, no less.  We weren't expecting him. Brian was out getting a hair cut, actually.  So I answer the door in my pj's.  The dog was jumping all over this guy - house was a total mess. But what was I going to do?  I needed the gas line turned back on ASAP, as I was sick of spending my afternoons drying the clothes at the laundry mat with Margie and Bertha watching Judge Alex reruns. There's a whole subculture at the laundry mat, but I'm in no condition to go into that now.  Anyway, I wasn't quite sure what I was talking about, and called Brian several times to no avail - so I'd have to go this alone.  The gas guy was in a hurry and didn't seem like he had much time...so here I am trying to move out the dryer and explain the whole situation and he's seeming like he might just say something like we'll have to call back and reschedule which I just couldn't bare the thought of, so I figure I'll try and be cute and clueless and see if maybe he'll feel bad for me and wait.  But then I glance down at my outfit and realize that I'm in 6 layers of PJ's and "cute" was just not gonna happen.  In fact, I had socks on with flip flops.  I'm not making this up.  SOCKS with FLIP FLOPS, people! 

Yes, this is what I was dealing with.  What is seen cannot be un-seen.  I think ultimately, the guy assumed I was on a weekend pass from the asylum and in the interest of not having me run around town with wet laundry in such a state, he waited it out and finally turned our gas line back on.  So I'm thankful for that.  The moral of this story is never to wear socks with flip flops- even in the privacy of your own home, and of course the other moral is to always buy filtered cigarettes....obviously.